Niger-Delta govs tasked on speedy C of O, governor’s consent issuance 

State governments in the Niger-Delta have been urged to rejig the speed of granting Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and Governor’s Consent for development purposes in the region.

This particular advice, the Secretary, Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), Delta State Chapter, Mr Lewis Afolabi, said has become imperative in order to attract real estate investments to the region post COVID-19 era.

He listed delay in granting building plans approvals, attendant underhand sharp practices, bottlenecks associated with processing of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and insecurity among factors limiting real estate investment in the region.

For these reasons, Afolabi told Nigerian Tribune that professionals in the built environment in the region had been earnestly yearning for a master plan that would put the rest to problems of ‘rule of the thumb’ in granting of building/ projects plan’s approvals and the attendant underhand sharp practices that could serve as a disincentive to genuine developers with borrowed funds.

He pointed out that the Delta State 2003 Urban and Regional Planning Law was undergoing a review in the State House of Assembly, adding that professionals under the aegis of Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) in the state had submitted memoranda to the lawmakers.

If the inputs from Memoranda are taken seriously in the passage of the bill and in implementation of the resulting law, Afolabi expressed optimism that Delta State would become an investor’s hub.

He stressed that the length of time and the bottlenecks associated with the processing of documents for development were major issues that required urgent attention in the region.

“The speed of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and Governor’s Consent issuance must be rejigged. More IT exposure should be given to the professionals involved to reduce the interface with person/bureaucracy that may hamper the speedy process,” he said.

In Rivers State, he mentioned that the state government was embarking on massive road infrastructural development to attract investments.

Why lauding the government of Rivers State for its giant strides in roads construction, Afolabi said that the authority could do better by ensuring that the entire state was connected in real time by road to the state capital.

Afolabi said “I also expect the Delta State Government to do the same. The distance to Asaba, the state capital from each end of the state is not encouraging to development. This can only be bridged through massive real estate and infrastructural development that is sponsored by a conductive business environment.”

“My dream for the Niger-Delta region is to see a conurbanisation and urban agglomeration taking place within the region similar to what’s happening in the south western region where Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Oyo are almost so close that people can live in any of the state outside Lagos yet working in Lagos.”

“That’ is the regional integration I expected the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC to champion. Alas! That’s not the case,” he added.

Afolabi foresees hope for a better business climate in Niger -Delta region in 2021, urging the state governments in the region to allow their budgets to serve as stimuli for creating enabling atmosphere for massive investments by the private sector.

Besides, he urged that criminal elements should not be patronised by state actors, warning that otherwise, investors would be scared.

He suggested that genuine business initiatives by young and upcoming entrepreneurs should be welcome and encouraged with low interest loan facilities.

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